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The latest episode of The Flash was decidedly light on actual Flash, but having Barry sidelined proved to be the perfect opportunity for Cisco and Chester to shine. Plus, any episode with some Blockbuster throwbacks is bound to be a good one.
Spoilers ahead for “The One With the Nineties,” which aired Tuesday, April 6, 2021 on The CW.
Like something straight out of a Captain Marvel callback, this episode found Cisco and Chester (aka Team Chesco) stuck in a time loop trapped on a particular day in 1998. They make the unplanned trip back in time while investigating the mysterious new Forces running wild in the world after Barry restarted the Speed Force. Turns out getting the Speed Force back online also unlocked a few other ultra-powers, and they finally got some official names thanks to Cisco: The Sage Force, The Strength Force and the Still Force are all in the wild — joining the Speed Force in making for some mighty strong powers in the Arrowverse.
This week’s problems come courtesy of the Still Force, which allows its wielder to alter time itself, which manifests with the aforementioned 1998 time loop bubble, plus everything from dinosaurs to lost submarines popping up in the streets of Central City as it ramps up and begins to unravel.
But the throwback setting also proved the perfect muse to peel back the layers on Team Flash’s newest member, Chester, to see what childhood traumas and baggage turned him into the man he is today. Turns out the time loop day is also the day before Chester’s father dies in a car crash, and his pops also has the piece of tech they need to rebuild their device to try and figure out who is messing with time, and get home. Chester shares a beautiful moment with his father, finally seeing his decisions and perception in a new light, with the opportunity to talk to his father as a fellow adult. He even gets a bit of bonding time, as they build their needed piece of tech from scratch.
For a show built around parental loss and that type of pain, grounding Chester with a story like this really shows why he fits in so well with the misfits of Team Flash. Well done.
Despite their search efforts, the “time god” — who turns out to be a washed-up high school quarterback who’s life didn’t go as planned — actually tracks them down once he realizes they’re mucking around in his 1998 bubble. He aims to take them out of the timeline permanently, though Chester talks him down, but unwittingly opens the door for the time god, Deon, to possibly do far more damage down the line as he vanishes off into the time stream.
With an episode like this, so tightly connected to messing around with time, it just felt odd not to even mention the Legends of Tomorrow. Right? They’re literally the Arrowverse heroes who deal with these types of shenanigans. Yes, their show doesn’t return for another month or so — but not even giving them a name drop just felt like a weird omission considering the subject matter.
The Speed Force, in the form of Barry’s late mother Nora, is still hanging around — and even gets some time to bond with Iris. She’s apparently staying close to Team Flash for protection from these other Forces, though there could be more to her motivations that haven’t come to light. Regardless, it looks like she’ll be around for at least another episode or two.
Having everyone time-twisted into random period costumes was a fun bit. And of course Frost just goes with it. Good stuff.
Cisco’s mind is lost to time, but what brings him back? Game of Thrones, of course. It had to be the Iron Throne.
After spending the entire episode in a recovery coma, Barry is back in action once the story finally wraps. Makes you wonder if star Grant Gustin just needed a bit of time off, or had a scheduling conflict there. Regardless, it worked wonderfully and gave some supporting players a chance to shine. So no harm, no foul.
After the reveal last week that the mystery agent working in CCPD is hunting Frost, Joe gives her a heads up. But she doesn’t take it lying down, and it sounds like she’ll be fighting back to keep this new life and freedom she’s acquired.
Next week: Speed Force Nora is still around! And apparently super-charging Barry a bit too much now that he’s recovered.